There’s no doubt that potatoes are one of the staples of the human diet. They are delicious, calorie-dense, and with their help, we can make hearty meals. So, dogs should love them, as well, right? As you know, not all types of foods that we can eat are safe to consume by animals. Let’s look at whether potatoes are safe for our canine friends, whether they contain essential nutrients, and whether feeding Fido potatoes comes with possible side effects.
Can Dogs Eat Potatoes?
The simplest answer to this question would be yes. However, dogs are omnivores, which means they also need a good helping of protein for pretty much every meal. Therefore, overdoing it isn’t a good idea, so you can feed your canine buddy potatoes only in moderation.
There are several types of potato varieties, many of which you can rest assured are safe. Of all of the ones that are available nowadays, sweet potatoes are the safest and the healthiest. Furthermore, it is generally considered that potatoes that have green skin aren’t safe to feed to your dog.
What Nutrients Are in Potatoes?
Potatoes can give your canine companion lots of energy as they are calorie-dense. In fact, most dietitians that create special regimes for people trying to lose weight recommend steering clear of potatoes as they contain a lot of carbs. Nevertheless, when it comes to their nutritional content, they are pretty healthy.
Potatoes are rich in vitamins A, B, as well as C. They also contain iron and potassium. When added to your dog’s diet in moderation, they can keep your pet full for a long amount of time.
Possible Side Effects of Feeding Your Dog Potatoes
Gastrointestinal obstruction is the highest risk that you are exposing your dog to when you are feeding him or her potatoes. This can happen, especially if the potatoes are raw or incorrectly cooked. Some of the symptoms of this medical issue include vomiting and diarrhea, as well as severe abdominal pain.
Canine dilated cardiomyopathy is another possible adverse effect of feeding Fido potatoes. Even though this disease is mostly genetic, it can be caused by several factors, some of them pertaining to a dog’s diet. Raw potatoes are one of the most dangerous types of foods you could feed to your friend.
Solanine is a substance present in the whole potato plant, but it can also be found in potato skins. In case you didn’t know, tomatoes contain it, as well, and so does the tomato plant. By boiling the potatoes and then removing the skin, you are effectively removing any risk of solanine toxicity, as well. For example, when I was studying for my vet degree and took nutrition classes, I learned that you could feed potato skins to pigs, but the skins had to be boiled, and then the residue water had to be thrown away. Cooking a potato considerably reduces the solanine levels it contains.
Organic potatoes are generally considered better compared to their regular counterparts, and that’s because they are grown in safe soil, and they haven’t come in contact with pesticides. However, even in such situations, you can’t know for sure that there are no pesticide remnants in the soil where the potato plant grew.
The reason for this is that several decades ago, people still used DDT, an organochlorine that was originally developed as an insecticide. The problem with this substance is that it remains in the soil for dozens of years after being sprayed on the plants just once. It is a dangerous chemical that has several side effects, and that has been shown to cause cancer, especially to wildlife.
Agricultural use of DDT was banned in most developed countries in the 70s, but since it is a persistent organic pollutant that’s readily absorbed to sediments and soils, it can affect organisms for as many as 30 years or more. Moreover, DDT has lipophilic properties, which means that it accumulates in an animal’s body. It is toxic to a wide range of animals, but birds are at the highest risk since they feed on the seeds and sometimes, on the parts of the plants farmed on soils treated with DDT.
The point that we are trying to make here is that, if you want to feed your dog potatoes, you need to remove their skins as they are most likely to have been exposed to pesticides and other toxic chemicals used in agriculture.
Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes aren’t even in the same family as regular potatoes. In fact, they are more related to pumpkin than they are to regular potatoes. They make for a healthier option, especially when compared to white potatoes, as they are much more nutritious. They contain vitamins A, C, and B6, but also magnesium, calcium, potassium, as well as iron. Besides, they are rich in dietary fiber, which means that they can also improve your canine friend’s digestion.
If you are feeling unsure about adding potatoes to your dog’s diet, we would recommend trying squash or pumpkin instead. As cheap as these two might be, as well, they are far healthier and safer to feed to Fido, and they also contain a good amount of fiber for healthy digestion.
Feeding Cooked Potatoes to Your Dog
Now that we know that raw potatoes are dangerous, you might want to know just what type of cooked potatoes you can feed to your dog. First of all, it’s highly recommended that you do not add salt to any cooked potatoes. Mashed potatoes are perfectly safe so long as they don’t contain salt. If your dog loves the consistency of fatty foods, you could try adding half a teaspoon of coconut oil (or even better, fish oil) to the mashed potatoes keeping in mind that it increases the caloric content of the food. Therefore, if your dog is slightly overweight, leaving the oil might be a better idea.
Baked potatoes are also safe to feed to your canine buddy. Even though solanine is largely neutralized by high cooking temperatures, to be on the safe side of things, we recommend peeling the potatoes prior to cooking them. Bake the potatoes in the oven for forty minutes or more or just until they are very soft. Cut them into smaller pieces so that they are easy to munch on.
Introducing Potatoes into Your Dog’s Diet
You can’t know for sure whether your dog is going to love potatoes or if he might develop digestive issues once you start feeding them to him. That’s why it is a good idea to slowly introduce new foods into a dog’s diet. You can mix cooked potatoes with canned dog food, or if you notice that your dog actually likes them, you could offer him one or two baked wedges from time to time, as a treat.